AllBetter

"Early Intervention in Schools" with Superintendent Nathan Barrett

September 11, 2023 Joe Van Wie Season 3 Episode 64
AllBetter
"Early Intervention in Schools" with Superintendent Nathan Barrett
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Buckle up for a transformative journey into the world of trauma-informed education with Nathan Barrett, the Superintendent of Hanover Area School District. Growing up in the tough neighborhood of Bellevue, Scranton, Nathan and I share more than just a childhood community - we share a commitment to supporting students dealing with trauma. Diving deep into the nuts and bolts of his community-centered approach, Nathan talks about his hands-on strategy that prioritizes visibility and availability, and his successful partnerships that are paving the way for college and career readiness for his students.

Ever wondered how empathy and leadership can turn a struggling school around? Nathan opens up about his passion for making a difference in children's lives, and how his relationship with teachers, parents, and empathy helped turn the academic performance of his school from worst to first. He also shares the innovative ways he shows appreciation to his staff - a day of equestrian therapy anyone? - and delves into the school's pioneering trauma-informed care training that helps identify and address trauma before it morphs into addiction.

The final leg of our journey explores the urgent need for mental health funding in schools and how it can potentially change the status quo. We unpack the mental health crisis in Pennsylvania schools, the $500 million mental health services budget, and the repercussions of the lack of mental health facilities in the state. And, if you've ever wondered how data can personalize care for students with mental health issues, we've got you covered. Listen in as we navigate these critical issues, and shed light on the role of empathy in creating inclusive and trauma-informed environments in schools. Be prepared for a compelling conversation about the future of education.

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Speaker 1:

Hello and thanks again for listening to another episode of All Better. I'm your host, Joe Van Wee. Today's guest is Nathan Barrett. Nathan is the superintendent of Hanover Area School District and a champion for educational as practices throughout the state. He started his career as a health and physical education teacher. Driven to reach more students, he began his journey as an administrator, Leading students and staff at the John F Kennedy Elementary School and the Scranton School District. Nathan earned some of his most prized accomplishments during this tenure at Kennedy Elementary, While he led the school from its last to first in terms of school performance. This was probably accomplished by providing a sense of safety and trust about students and parents and creating an environment for everyone, Like they were part of this community. He made it a priority to ensure all needs were met academic, social, emotional, both physical and mental health. He was also a member of the Scranton School Board from 2010 to 2013. In 2016, he was appointed to the Pennsylvania State Board of Education and remains an active member. Nathan sat on several state board committees and is currently the chairperson of the School and University Safety Committee. In his current role as superintendent of schools, Nathan is known for his boots on the ground approach, making himself visible and available throughout all district schools and in the community. While he consistently analyzes academic data, proposing changes to improve student performance, his priority remained in creating a sense of safety and making each and every student feel very important. He's also completed several projects leading to an increased energy efficiency and financial improvement. He's currently leading the way with innovative approaches to college and career readiness. A gift in collaborating and developing partnerships which stakeholders has provided significant benefits to students and businesses, particularly in the trades. He has partnered with several colleges to create and incentivize pathways to careers that are most needed in the workforce. Due to the partnerships he created with the several stakeholders, many students are able to complete college credits at no cost to them or their families before graduating high school. For the first time in the district's history, two students graduated and received a degree from a local community college before receiving their high school diploma. These students are able to go directly into an apprenticeship with an electrical workers union and complete in a half of a traditional time frame. Nathan strives to create a sense of belongingness to all of the Hanover community and motivates the staff, students and families to reach their fullest potential. I want you to meet Nathan and some of the approaches he has taken to identifying trauma and trauma being identified is the early earmark of addiction. And what they're doing? They're doing some really interesting things. Let's meet Nathan. Okay, we're live Just chatting off, Mike. What Nate, catching up. We've known each other since childhood, on and off, and we seem to circle back for a project or run in every 10 years. And we have a mutual friend, Margie Durkin, who's a social worker, and we were talking about you last week and I reached out to Nathan. I wanted to talk to him about how prolific his career has been in school districts multiple and him being the superintendent currently in Hanover and he's seen firsthand the results of trauma early on in children and what that carries on to as they become teenagers. I think he's seen the entire spectrum multiple times and he's been doing some innovative programs and asking for innovative resources for the last decade and I want you to come on and have a chance to talk about that, Nate. So thanks for coming on.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for having me. Yes, I appreciate the great intro and the words that you're using. I wouldn't exactly use those myself. But, yes, I am the superintendent of schools at the Hanover area school district and, joe, as you mentioned, we know each other since childhood. So we were street kids. There's no doubt, I find, that my experience being a street kid has taken me to a nice place today where there is not a secure nuclear family in place, where you're seeing that attunement that you need from early childhood. So I speak from a place of experience with that. So, with that being said, I felt that when I went to John F Kennedy Elementary School within this grad school district, some of the places that the students were leaving from to come into my building that I was the administrator of, they were coming from hell and there was just a niche that I found that I saw a face or I saw helpless eyes that looked very familiar and that was based on experience. So, joe, as you know, we grew up in the Bellevue section of Scranton Ross and Tuff neighborhood, jackson.

Speaker 1:

Terrace for life, man. You better believe it, buddy.

Speaker 2:

But we were street kids, poor, poor as poor can be. So my brother and I were running the streets all the time, you know, fist fights up and down, you name it. But the bottom line is, when it came to the time where you were building your brain, I'm going to school, school age, and you look around and you see, you know what kids are wearing or what shoes you have on which are big deals. At that point in time my mother was a single mother, scrappy, working two and three jobs cashier at IGA. She was, you know, orderly at the state hospital on Bellevue Berry Street there. So you know, we walked, we didn't have a car, we didn't have anything. So, like you know, it was a lot of walking, yeah, a lot of walking.

Speaker 1:

The VA hospital Yep, you better believe it. You could smoke in the ER room or like waiting room.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, never mind Canada smoke. When you went in the ER bingo hall, you know you were, you were getting, you were getting some secondhand smoke. But so we, as time went on, you know, and we were building who we were in the world. I found that fighting my way through was the best defense that I could ever have, because no one would mess with you and say things that may cut me to the core. And I find that, as I sat there as a school administrator seeing kids with anger, learning as I work through the therapeutic world for my own self is that, you know, anger is a byproduct of something else. So, um, so, when you see those types of things and you see that, those innocent eyes trying to find some help, those days in those hallways at the hand at John F Kennedy Elementary School, I found a sense of comfort and I found my place for several years where those kids had safety. Um, and this is the highlight of my career was I just took the job as the superintendent the Hanover area school district and there's something in most school districts called school wide positive behavior and it's an emphasis on kids who do what they're supposed to do all day, reward them rather than pausing, giving this big splash to the kid who's as an ill fated behavior or less than desirable behavior. So we reward the kids for doing what they're supposed to do all the time, rather than punitive measures stopping the class. So Hanover area school district did not have that. I had just left Scranton taking this new role. So I asked the superintendent of schools at the Scranton school district, said I, could I bring my administrative team back to the Scranton school district to see what that footprint looks like? So we loaded up into two cars. Boom, we headed north, bound up 81. We went to Kennedy elementary school. Highlight of my career is this when I walked through those doors, santa was there for Christmas pictures. The entire hallways ran towards me and ran away from Sanham, climbing on me, holding me. No, these are all kids that were living in those four low-income housing developments that surrounded Kennedy Elementary School. So I was more important than Sanham. Not too many people could say that, but it gave me this. It was like one of those moments in your life where you go holy shit, I made an impact on these kids. They just walked away from Sanham, ran up the hallway screaming Mr Barrett. So that was the safe environment that I had provided. It's funny. Our street life came into where I can try to find a way to hustle, get people who had old coats, old sneakers, you name it. You reach into that world every now and again when you need it, and the parents at Kennedy Elementary began to really respect me at a high level because they'd come home with a new pair of sneakers on. Because if I see a kid with his brother or sister's shoes on because they couldn't both go to the school the same day because they had one pair of shoes, so that wasn't happening under my watch I could care less. What I needed to do and I did it. So when I left there.

Speaker 1:

I got that without them asking, Like this is an observation, you know, that's it without asking Going home, come down.

Speaker 2:

Those parents would come down. And I have another funny story, if you don't mind me sharing.

Speaker 1:

No, I just found that interesting without asking. There is no space for shame.

Speaker 2:

You're already entering hell, these are my kids, those are my kids.

Speaker 1:

Not everyone has that skill to observe that.

Speaker 2:

So these are my kids. At that point I'm responsible for their safety, and that includes them being warm or feeling uncomfortable within their skin. Again, this is me walking around Willard Elementary School at six years old with sneakers I don't want to wear, but so I know what they're thinking. I know what they're feeling, so I put myself. I walked a mile in their shoes, so I'm going to get them what they need. So I have the resources to do it and I did it. So the funniest story was I rode the bus one day. On Tuesdays, scranton School District gets out, so I'd ride the bus. We had a little bit of a rowdy bus going to Valvue Terrace, so as I got up there one day, it was apparent that I had a question about some managerial stuff and the person did not like the questions that I was asking and I had built a strong reputation of taking care of people's kids, so the trust was built in that community. So this man was not happy with me that I had asked. you know the question that I asked and he was getting somewhat aggressive with his wording and, you know, using some foul language in front of the kids, and I asked him to not do that in front of the kids. I'm sure they hear my own kids here, but you know, I just thought it was the right thing to say and do. Out of nowhere a group of people came down and said don't you fucking talk to him like that. This guy had to take off down the street because I had built up such a trust within that community that they were protecting me. This guy went trucking down the street because the result was not going to be good. At the end it feels good that you're part of the community.

Speaker 1:

You're a leader. At that point I want to summarize the fact that we grew up in power means no male figures around us like immediate besides my brother. You had a brother and you tell this akin to having a larger sense of empathy. Now that you have hindsight, you turned your life around. Now I don't even want to describe it as that. It's not turn your life around. What woke you up to the idea of the service that you just described? When did you know I'm going to be really good at this. This is what I'm doing. I could make a difference. What was your defining moment?

Speaker 2:

I believe it's the story that I told at Kennedy Elementary.

Speaker 1:

Right there.

Speaker 2:

I went. My first job as an administrator was at the Old Ford School District and they have great family units down there. That is a strong community. You just think about Blue Devil football. They stand behind their kids, Boy, they're involved. And so I didn't see anything from a leadership standpoint until I got to Scranton and I go this looks really familiar. This looks real familiar. I've lived this before, so that was the moment. Joe, I knew at that point like I'm supposed to be here.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, see, that's interesting and it's significant. It's a cultural difference. You got generational lives in Old Forge. Anyway, you cut it. It's probably second, third generations going through the school, familiarity, almost a closed group, not an in group and an out group kind of scenario. You get to Scranton it's diverse, there's more transient, there's more people that would live around here, there's more apartments and rentals and you felt like you're at home. You could put a saddle on this school and help.

Speaker 2:

I felt right at home and it was that moment that you spoke of. I said I'm supposed to be here and every single day I went into that place and just the looks that you got, the hugs across your leg. It was a very, very wonderful place. That defined me. That bled through to a story when I was at State College and I'll tell you how successful I became. There was when I arrived there. Every academic category was in the basement. It was the lowest in the Scranton School District, so I had cared for those kids like they were my own. The teachers began to see my passion for the kids changing tie and shoe laces, wiping their nose, you name it. Parents were not as harsh to the teachers because they didn't want to upset me, because we had such a strong bond. So I'm out there before after school, riding the bus, very visible, very trusting. There was nothing that wasn't accessible to them. So the kids are seeing their parents, trust me. The teachers are seeing the parents. They're seeing that there's no hostility back and forth. They come to me. It's taken care of Just this environment. That was very soothing, and so from the time I showed up there until the time that I left, we went from worst to first in every category. So I was. That goes from attendance that goes to every measurable high-stakes assessment that Pennsylvania sets forth. So we just grew. It was unbelievable and I don't want to talk too specific here, but we had something that was a 28-point swing and on average, 28-point swing is a school report card. On average it's two to three points. Do you remember what it was? Yeah, so what they do is they calculate every growth from students on an individual basis, their growth to how kids perform on English, math and science, high-stakes assessment, testing and they mashed that together to give you a report card. And the Future Ready Index, or school performance profile, is what used to be named as. And we had a 28-point swing and on average, if you're a show and growth, the average growth is about two. If you're consistent with your growth, two to three points a year. So someone thought we were cheating along the way.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it sounds remarkably. I'm thinking of Crazy Joe from Jersey City. Lean on me. I'm seeing images of lean on me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it wasn't that dramatic, but I'll tell you it was. But what happened was and the significance of this story is I was in a room full of superintendents at the Secretary of Education Superintendents Academy. It was just before COVID, so in 2019, I was enrolled into this prestigious academy. It was very nice to be honored to be in that academy. But the superintendent of Scranton School District was in it as well with me and they asked her during this open forum the speaker going around with the microphone and beginning vision, about 100 superintendents in a room, big conference room. She was all the way away from me. I could barely even see her through all the heads for all the flat surface. So they said what's a highlight that you feature in your career under your leadership? Give us an example of a highlight. And she says Well, it's funny because the highlight of my career had a principal who sits in this room and he's right over there. She points over to me. She said took a real rough school who we didn't know who we were going to put there and it was just from a disciplined standpoint and how to put a lid on the parents. You know that didn't necessarily know how to handle when their kids were not being the most favorable with behavior, standpoint or grades or anything she said. But not only did he put a lid on that, but they became the best academic school. So he's look, who is he. Who is he. So he makes a beeline over to me and he hands the microphone. Is tell me how you, how you did it. And I said the patch Adams theory. And if you remember the patch Adams movie and the early 1990s, probably yeah that the two oncologists given the same medication, but one was given it with love and one was just giving it and administering walking away. The guy who was given the same medication, who showed love, had twice the survival rate. True story, and the whole room erupted into laughter. But how many people came up to me afterwards and said explain that, what does that even mean? Yeah, and I just said, when kids feel safe and you make them feel important, they're never going to let you down, and so I always call it the patch Adams approach all the time. And that goes in reference to that so.

Speaker 1:

I want to stay on that, because that's what I wanted to talk about. How do you take a sense of a field where there could be burnout, especially when there's a distressed school? You almost see it in drug and alcohol treatment. I've seen great counselors now start to be angry at people they need to be treating because it's hard. You said you see anger as a byproduct of say something else fear trauma. It's easier to have anger. It gives you a sense of agency so you don't have to be afraid, especially for males. So you see this. How do you share that with your faculty and make this systematic, like we can systematically approach empathy and compassion? How do you need to do that quickly with your staff, because you could get burned out. Looking at the kids as something that can't change, like I think that's. I think people do that naturally. I think it egos and or personalities and an unchanging thing. You could get angry at a 13 year old. He meant to say this to me. How do you overcome that as a staff? How do you take care of yourself so you don't get burnt out?

Speaker 2:

So for us it's there's a few of the there's a few approaches that I take Very. First thing is, and I have a sign that says those who feel appreciated will always do more than expected. So the part of appreciation, but that will only take you so far. So I mean, like you know, you pile 10 more things on them and tell them thank you, I'm so grateful for you. That's 10 things get old real quick, but help systematic approaches. So, for example, we are that, I know, of the only school district that conducted a care for the care training. So, understanding and mindful of the burnout, we took all of our staff instead of sitting down and learning about the brain and learning about, you know, the next academic software or curriculum that we're putting into place. All these things that you know are monotonous and they're they create wear and tear. We took them up to Marley's mission for a day of equestrian therapy. Oh, that's great and we, we went up there. We were brushing horses, people were doing yoga, we were doing Tai Chi. We read a book, a children's book, that brought most adults to tears and I believe it's called no Flies on Main and it's about a horse flicking away. Flies that you, me, everybody. It's flies swarming around our head all day long and those are the informs of the traumatic events that we're dealing with. The anxiety, but when you put it into an adult perspective including myself, brought everybody to tears, Even an employee of Marley's mission just reading us a children's book called no Flies on Main, with the horse on the front of it, Because it put it in perspective of every one of us have demons, Every one of us have something that we're wearing, At least if you want to be interesting life's giving you some kind of flavor. But it was sad that you don't want everybody's flicking away flies.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that quote just came into my head. The last year Someone was at the friendly son's dinner. It was a politician and someone tried to introduce us but we knew each other, we were friends Because there's no flies on him. I had to go back to my table and Google that. I'm like what do you mean by that? Because I'm so paranoid. I'm thinking of his eat and it was like a compliment to me. You know your creative crafty to navigate in between the problems of stuff. That's how I interpreted the slang, so that was new to me. It's funny. But these things, these in services, these field trips, they're not corny. You get to work together because it's a really stressful job. It's always under the scrutiny of some public debate or fight. It's one of the only unions left that could have a voice for labor and labor being teachers. So there's a lot of push and pull publicly and for these guys to get out. Do Tai Chi, hear a reading? Brush your horse. This is. You see this as an immediate effect to the performance they give at school.

Speaker 2:

So we did it in a May in service, right after COVID. So we were, we were getting out for the summer, so it was like an end of the year reward, like let's go, just let our hair down, blow off some steam. But the stations that we we bounced around to that day systematically were ways to teach them self care so that when you leave and you do have those hellish days, you go do yoga, you go read a book, maybe you go to Marley's mission, and I don't know if you've ever seen about the personalities of the horses. Well, fascinating that is that they draw the walk towards you based on the vibe you're given with your personality.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's it's weird, it's. I don't know enough about it, but I knew a counselor that just started at Marley's mission. It's. It's so fascinating. I don't feel like I know enough to even speak intelligently about it, but I believe it. I mean, I believe I, just knowing a little bit about trees and fungus talking. We have no idea of what we're talking about. It's a systematic like internet of the woods. Why wouldn't a horse be in like that scene in Avatar, that ponytail kind of plugs into what they're flying Like? I think that's what has to come in sync, and what's in sync is neurons. So you have mirror neurons. You see another animal, you're matching and picking up each other's frequencies vibrating. Of course, this would have to have some kind of you know relationship with the horse. That's a nice way to be in tune, being that you know where we're from and you've been now over two decades. How many years? Yes, so you've got to see people reborn on your watch. Essentially there's 20 years old, in their 20s, now your first class. So this is a couple cycles of people going through adolescence. Now I think good evidence bases say not behavior, maybe even behavioral problems, but say addiction problems is to be specific, rise from a trauma based definition, which I lean towards and I think it's just self-evident to me. You can see this happen systematically now for 22 years from your own personal experience. How do you identify that? Have you looked at someone? You can identify that there's distress, trauma, neglect. I'm not even saying malicious. Everything's happening at home. How can the school intervene and identify that early on before, even if it developed into an addiction, that this addiction doesn't have to be a death set.

Speaker 2:

So what we do is. The excellent piece about what we have started is we have implemented something called a trauma screener. It's a universal screener, so we can almost project as to where that student is going, and we do that based on their exposure to what they may have had in their life at as early as kindergarten. So we're hopeful that we will be able to set picks on addiction throughout the course of the way. And obviously that's the basketball reference, because we're trying to create some type of roadblock from that becoming a full-blown issue that is stuck with them for life. So what we're seeing is students coming in exposed to things that little eyeballs should not see, and we have trained our teachers to look for things that may be cry for help, cry for help. Behaviors are usually the case, but we have then began to study different parts of the brain where we not only learn about ourselves from a burnout standpoint, but we're learning about children. So we see behaviors might be part of the universal screener. We're screening for trauma, we're screening for anything they may have been exposed to, and then immediately we put our social workers, margie Durkin, in one of them she's amazing. She's amazing. Same thing that we're speaking of here. Our eyes have been our best educator. So, her eyes have been her best educator, so she's seeing these kids immediately. She goes down and gets the report from us after we do that screener and knows what she's dealing with. We need more Margie Durkins in the world to be able to.

Speaker 1:

It's a crisis. I think it's nationwide Mental health addiction. There is a shortage of licensed social workers, therapy therapists, even peer-to-peer kind of paraprofessional licensors. They're needed all across the board.

Speaker 2:

Yes, so we have three additional licensed therapists on our staff in addition to Margie and how many? Schools do they cover? So we have two that cover our elementaries in addition to Margie. Then we have one at the high school that just does our high school students. That's a lot.

Speaker 1:

How many students are there?

Speaker 2:

900 and change at our high school.

Speaker 1:

So if it was a perfect world date, how many would you want there? Licensed social workers. If I had a fortune, I would want one for every grade. You're on a podcast, man Ask for it, yeah.

Speaker 2:

I'd want one for every grade if I could, and then Sounds appropriate it's. That would be a way for people to be varied, to give them the time and space that they need, but beyond that, so then, what we do is, when we get the therapist involved, we are then moving towards trying to get the family the help that they need. We have, then, guidance counselors one layer behind our social workers.

Speaker 1:

Is it that's it gets tricky that I mean say, forget the caseload if there's a stress on that, a keep it up if there's 900 kids. You know trauma could be defined to abuse. We could look severe to just as little as maybe a divorce is happening at home and this is traumatic. This could be traumatizing to get set off ADD just something basic as that One person covering that. What do you do to get the family involved? That seems like dicey, right, like how does someone approach that?

Speaker 2:

Trust, it's all trust. So we obviously need permission to service that student from a mental health standpoint. So and then, once they usually meet a human like Margie, they understand that she's you know, she's a godsend.

Speaker 1:

So it's the ability of the social worker to almost disarm the parent. Hey, like let's not put them under a spotlight or judgment, irregardless of what may be going on with, get them in a mood to comply. We can help here and start with treating more therapeutic measures with the child. Is this during school hours?

Speaker 2:

So it's during school hours, but so what we do is we get the family involved with the therapeutic process. So you know, we have few layers beyond what I had mentioned. So our social worker, we have our guidance counselors, and now we have embedded and this is common among school districts, but we have embedded school based behavior health teams in our buildings now. So what they do is they also work with the families. So within our buildings, if a student is exhibiting a behavior, it's, you know, usually a byproduct of something else. So then that school based behavior health team then we're not only works with the child but then works with the families. So they may do in house therapy, which they go to the house and they provide the therapy, they give updates on the child. They may be asking you know what is going on, there might be something, a new behavior that's exhibited, so on and so forth, and then we get a full scope as to what's going on. We may have the parents who, once they build trust, they're completely honest that they're struggling themselves. They need help. Yeah, they need help. That's great. So what we do is then then we go beyond, out into the human services world. So our, our guidance counselors, our social workers, our administration, you name it then we reach out to human service agencies and we get them to help so as they begin to see the school district as a resource, now, all of a sudden, you know, this guard begins to drop down.

Speaker 1:

You're not an authority, you're not judge, casting judgment on lifestyle in the house or distress.

Speaker 2:

Just want to help yeah. Believe me Then when, going back to your question several minutes ago, when a teacher sees you adding all these layers of support and they say this isn't all on my head, it's not all on my shoulders, they're really giving it all to loosen up the load that I have here in this classroom, in addition to the 19 other kids that are there. And believe me when I tell you that both classrooms probably throughout the nation, but throughout our district have two or three of these high need kids each classroom. So this isn't confine. We don't have one kid in each class, there's several. So what's nice is that we create a little footprint as to what is the root of care that we will take for the families. So we have a pretty well down path. Does it work all the time? No, it doesn't, but it's finally coming around that not only does our school district, but now on the state level, we have seen on the back end from law enforcement that they're helping schools. So, for example, there's something called safe to say. So safe to say is that anonymous tip line if somebody's been hurt, somebody's been hurt, somebody's gonna hurt themselves, maybe they're in danger, maybe something sexual Raising, pulling maybe kids. Yeah, anything, you all be above. So there's an anonymous tip line by text, because everybody use text, so it's easy, it's convenient, but so it's a safe way for people to say something about something that maybe someone that may be in danger. Well, that's been in place for several years, when Governor Shapiro was the attorney general at the time he started this. And now there's a second layer to this. That's been amazing and it's been a God sent to the districts is that if the police were called to a home at two o'clock in the morning and there was a domestic disturbance, that there was a violent act, somebody got hurt, maybe somebody vicious happened, and I have a kindergarten student that witnessed it. He's been up. So police then on the backside they give us what they call a handle with care report. Oh wow. They'll send this at 2.30 in the morning and say Nathan Barrett witnessed his mom and his dad a violent act. If he comes to school tomorrow and wants to sleep on the desk, let him sleep on the desk. This was never in place before Something that seems just so rational of so we get the handle with care plans and we let that poor little baby sleep on that desk all day, because it's the safest place there'll be for the next six hours.

Speaker 1:

It's strange I'm trying to look at this as spread out maybe just the last three centuries of what education has become rapidly to a small community religious based, then secular, then government, and now to come back to these things that make it communal and feel like an extension of family in regardless of cultures that are mixing. So what you're describing to me is something that could curb violence and addiction. I mean, is there a back end way to see these metrics, since these been put in place, that there's a reduction of something, or is it too early?

Speaker 2:

I believe it's too early, but what I will tell you is what my foresight could tell me is that there's help in place for kids to understand that there's systems in play to help. So let's go back to our childhood, joe. If we saw violence or someone did something to us inappropriately, there was no system in play you went to school.

Speaker 1:

I don't get my brother. You could go square him away.

Speaker 2:

Fight it out? Or what about that kid that just had to keep their mouth?

Speaker 1:

shut A bum knocked me out. What did I do? I went down. I told my brother he was two friends. We had to go back up to the hockey plot and I watched him. Yeah, right, yeah, it was child abuse.

Speaker 2:

Right, right, right. So, and that's how I began boxing, I mean, I took a beat. My brother said OK, I'll go finish this for you, but you've got to go. We're going to solve this, we're going to fix this long term. But there's systems in play now, a lot of safety nets, from the classroom, from the time they leave their house in the morning until the time they return home. There's professionals all day long looking for any sign and symptom that could be something that could create addiction, something that could create violence, something that we have resources to get them to Some people doesn't work for. But I believe that through all this process, as you just mentioned, that we've grabbed a couple people.

Speaker 1:

I think so. I think in any trend from 10,000 years, we're getting less violent, the world is getting better. I just think sometimes the consequences are higher and then when you really put that scope on education, I mean the consideration is the school, the administration and the teachers are spending more time with your kids than you will ever spend with them In any formative way. It's eight hours of the day. I mean that is just a demand for conscious attention, for them to be trained in social work, to make it let a brain develop, unlike the violence we encountered or I think the trend goes up. I think our brains are going to have to have more space to be that creative and less traumatized if we're going to solve the problems that we're eventually going to face here on the planet. I think we need our minds unfettered with neglect and pain or being judged by stuff that's just neurological. It's great to see that. I think I just hear old time you could have someone pretty gruff say, well, back in the day they should be great. Oh man, let's just focus. Evolution's not going to catch up with us. We have to jumpstart it from there, and I think it starts with the way we educate each other.

Speaker 2:

And I had a meeting today talking to a neuroscientist today about training that we have coming up about primarily boys, and boys 13 to 24, their frontal lobe is not closing and the biggest indicator of success is what she said is self-regulation.

Speaker 1:

So we need to start teaching self-regulation and so that is not in a curriculum and have that under English first rate Hand in hand, man, like, really Like thinking about it, just talking to you about it, just looking at the field of, say, psychology in itself. Or to go see a psychologist or a psychiatrist and not get a brain scan to go along with this assessment Like a metric, and now to take an undeveloped brain, like you just said, a frontal lobe that hasn't closed. This is the part of your brain, the newest part needs for executive function, cognition, the frontal temporal lobe. This is where the full body personality gets. Now, if you have trauma that mutes its kind of development in comparison to a person who's untraumatized, you're identifying the trauma and you could see interventions that can happen in between classes. How do you expect a kid to learn American history, the birth of the nation, if his attention is rumination of what he has to go home to or a life that he could only enjoy if he fantasizes about it? Intervening on that is far more important to the education Because when that's solved there's one kind of symptom, I think to a good developed frontal lobe. It's curiosity it won't end. So I guess the programs you're describing to me in Hanover and elsewhere that may be happening is the solution to ADD or trauma. I think it has to be littered through the classes, right.

Speaker 2:

And it's amazing because the chemistry of the brain plays an integral role in the second tier of education. So the first tier is getting to know what that universal screener looks like. So, for example, joe, when we find out that a student is the victim, we're going to use physical violence, sure OK. So now, if you take a look at this as an example, that kid is exhibiting a less than desirable behavior. The first, second, a strategy by a teacher, is closing proximal distance. What does that mean?

Speaker 1:

Walk towards the student, just walking towards the student.

Speaker 2:

Well, let's say they're doing something at the desk. Remember when we were younger teachers coming? Let's pretend the Hawthorne Effect, right, the Hawthorne Effect Do what you're supposed to do when you're doing it, right. So teacher closes the proximal distance. Boom, you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. So it's a strategy. Don't say anything, you don't do any, you just walk over in that direction. That should curb the behavior. However, it's the speed of it. So what we've done is we've created what we call handle with care plans. So if this student is a victim of physical violence and you're making a B line in an aggressive manner now tier two of the educational process what chemistry is that brain releasing? Did they now go to fight or flight? Because they won't remember anything for the next 20 minutes?

Speaker 1:

on average, it's cortisol. Cortisol is pumping. Yeah, blood is the brain.

Speaker 2:

They're ready to fight or flight. So anything you say in the next 19 minutes, but as well stop what you're doing and everybody take a nap.

Speaker 1:

I'm overwhelmed that you're talking about this. I don't think I know anything Like. I'm not friends with enough teachers, that's. Are they discussing this? We are?

Speaker 2:

So we are talking about trauma, informed education. So when you have a student that you're raising a voice, they're the victim of verbal abuse. Where did they go psychologically? Are they ever gonna come back? Are they gonna build that trust with the teacher? So the strategy is now talked softly and then think about this. That is then a full circle because the teacher, like you said when we first met today, we've learned that when you have spoken about something and you're calm and you're speaking slower about it, you're relaxed. So teachers who may be experiencing burnout, that they find out that their strategy is slower and lower, then it's having an impact on them and it's also having an impact on the students in the classroom. So this trauma informed education that we have been rolling out we're entering into our third year about this so it's all the study of the brain chemistry, it's all the study of what happens to a trauma victim under duress.

Speaker 1:

Wow, nate, that sounds really hopeful for the future because, say, 10 years ago, was this being discussed at any school you were working at, like was this when did this start? When did it? What was it new for you?

Speaker 2:

Let me first answer the first what they looked like. The first part was day one of teacher burnout, because there was no systematic, there was no system in play to deal with these behaviors. So they were getting kids wanting to fight them. So that never happened, because we get our ass kicked.

Speaker 1:

Well, they had the paddle too Right and I got it. It sounds like we're from the 1890s in the sense that you're saying there's a paddle Like would a kid understand what the paddle is today in a school.

Speaker 2:

Not a chance.

Speaker 1:

I always think of that. Just to put this conversation completely in context if you went, if back to the future was made today I just saw this fact on social media they'd be going back to 1993.

Speaker 2:

Oh my God, this is the freakish we're the 50s kids we're like oh my God, you're Biff. So Mr Barkin gave it to me. So, if he's listening to this, mr Barkin gave it to me at Willard School. It was aerodynamic, he had holes drilled into it. So I got that in second grade at Willard Elementary School. But to move forward, that was the start of not understanding the exposure and the damage that students were coming to school with all this baggage. And then that began to escalate. As time went on, behaviors became more and more drastic and, as we see now, it's trickled out into law enforcement, trickled out into yeah, it's a lifetime of payment.

Speaker 1:

Healthcare, law enforcement, correctional facilities. It's just a nightmare. What can you say intelligently about the funding of this? Are you not getting enough funding? Is funding not there? How do people understand this? That are voters, so I could easily see someone describing this or politicizing this approach with trauma very soon. Just push back to this soft talk in schools. These schools are like war zones, Like how do you oppose that Like cause? You're saying you have to collect the metrics. I think that's the argument. You know it'll be close to a 10 year gap. If you're saying that that's when it started, You'll have a metric of facts. This has made an impact, so you could produce more funding for it, right?

Speaker 2:

Yes, so for the first time ever in this governor's budget, pennsylvania governor's Imperial's budget was $500 million for mental health services in school First of its kind. So there's light, it's coming the sun's coming over the mountains, let me put a footnote there.

Speaker 1:

There's no state hospital here right now. There's nowhere to place someone. You can't even 302 a person in Lackawanna County that could be kept more than two days. And if they are, where are they sending them? Like Guy, Seniors could have 100 beds soon, but I don't think people understand that resource and a mental health tsunami is just crashing now and it'd be crashing for the next three years.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and that bleeds into all of this goes hand in hand with our judicial system. So students, juvenile incarceration there's zero placements either, so a lot of it goes hand in hand with students or experiencing violent episodes, usually associated with some diagnosis. So I was in a meeting yesterday, I attended that the nearest beds are in Ohio. So I mean, you know so when you talk about the lack of resources, everyone needs to get into a room and just say what's the regional need, break it down into smaller chunks, because we have to service the people that live within our community, because that's the only way to get a community healthier. Because we're receiving any beds that we have, local or Philadelphia folks, which I mean I'm glad that they're being serviced. I'm not talking ill-fated about Philadelphia. Yeah, of course not.

Speaker 1:

But what about the red 299% of the state after that? I mean, how do you intervene? Are there kids coming to school with serious mood disorders or personality disorders which are more severe, and how you would act out? Are you having to manage them for eight hours A where you're gonna throw them out of school? What does that take Then? Where do they go? You have a distressed mother or father trying to take care for them. Medication's not being taken properly. So out of that $500 million budget, just like a general summary, does that like break? I guess it was break down in trainings, more positions, yes, Is that the bulk of it.

Speaker 2:

Yes, so if you break down the four mental health professionals that I have at the district, you're talking maybe half a million dollars. So I could double my staff. Yeah, there's 500 school districts in the state of Pennsylvania. $500 billion would. If it was a perfect world, it would be $1 million per school district. I'd be able to take that line item and then put all my mental health professionals on it and then double it. I'm glad you said that.

Speaker 1:

That puts me on my heels to understand what $500 million is. When you say school, here's a line item, it's needed Eight hours a day. You're with so much children and whatever their needs are should be what's evolve, should be met at the school. I mean cops really good cops are being trained in human services, social work. I mean they're the first responder to a mental health crisis, not a criminal crisis. Most of the time, and I think teachers get the brunt of this. What do you see in the future? You wanting to develop there or continue with this program that you would wanna discuss?

Speaker 2:

So for me, I've signed up to become a pilot program for data warehouse for families that are receiving treatment. So what I mean by that is right now, if Joe Van, we were transferring from Willard Elementary School to North Polk and All Elementary School, you would be able to see that you have your chickenpox vaccination, your COVID vaccination, you name it, but it's none of our business what you're getting service for. From a psychological standpoint, now, that creates tremendous burnout for teachers, because when you show up and you have tore that classroom apart and they no longer wanna be there because they can't do their job. So for us, optimism I'm gonna keep it on the high note is that there is a data warehouse that the Office of Safe Schools in Harrisburg it's embedded in the Department of Education is trying to create an umbrella program at the Department of Health a physical health standpoint and a mental health standpoint. So when Nathan Barrett shows up and I'm being treated for whatever my ailment is, this is what the diagnosis is, this is the medication and this is the care. This is how you handle this student. This way, there's a customized plan that allows A number one comfort B. Let's the teacher understand Is this approach?

Speaker 1:

does the school approach the parents? Can we have a consent, like a release, to anything we should be concerned about, or we can help?

Speaker 2:

That's the only way we can do it right. It's the only way we can do it. But for the most part the whatever managerial part that they have to do for any type of medical assistance on their end that has to be a part of this. So there are some systematic approaches to the way that the Department of Health is handling this.

Speaker 1:

And Medicaid's been covering this. But we have a good county representation. You choose from a couple of health care plans, which are the Medicaid plans. It's the best insurance you could get right. Thank God, because you need to see it here first First. Eight, 12 years of life, parts of the brain, that form you're never gonna change. It's like almost an improbable thing. You could solve it there. You're the front line. That's why I wanted to talk to you today and I would love to have you back as things develop. $500 million is now being thrown at that and I think you guys are doing a great job, not only setting a standard up in handover. That's why I just found it so interesting All this stuff. Margie was telling me that the interventions that are happening up there and she knows she's been doing it for three decades, the compliments she gave you and the impact she knows she's having is. We know a lot of people that didn't have any intervention from eight to 16, they're not here anymore, be it from overdose or needing compulsion, this compulsion to only be comforted from those dramas by an addiction. That's a shame. Nate, is there something I should have asked that I did not ask?

Speaker 2:

you. No, as I said, I just I feel very comfortable talking about the trauma stuff because of where we were. Yeah, sure, absolutely. I'd love to come back and share that piece, how it went into an addiction phase. Yeah, man, you gotta mask those things and find a way to solve it again. You'll be a regular, I would be glad to Absolutely man. That's great Thanks.

Speaker 1:

Nate, thank you. I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of All Better To find us on allbetterfm or listen to us on Apple Podcasts, spotify, google Podcasts, stitcher, iheartradio and Alexa. Special thanks to our producer, john Edwards, and engineering company 570 Drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, facebook, instagram or Twitter and, if you're not, on social media, you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember, just because you're sober doesn't mean you're right. These are signs and signs and signs show shortけどs all making sure we're not cutting you in wednesdays. Let Mexican people taking you in. All right, so good.

Building Trauma-Informed Education
Empathy and Leadership in Education
Trauma Screening and Support in Schools
Trauma-Informed Education and Brain Chemistry
School Mental Health Funding and Impact
Episode Appreciation and Social Media Promotion